Can Brandon Weeden carry the Cowboys?
Even without star receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys upset the Eagles 20-10 behind a solid defense and quality quarterback play by Tony Romo (PFF’s No. 7-rated QB)—before he suffered a serious clavicle injury, which could keep him sidelined for one-to-three months.
One of the main reasons the Cowboys didn’t miss a beat after Romo’s injury was the efficient play of back-up QB Brandon Weeden. Weeden went a perfect seven-for-seven with 73 yards passing and a score.
If the Cowboys are going to keep pace in the NFC until Romo returns, they’re going to need Weeden to keep performing like he did on Sunday. Anything short of that, and Dallas will be in trouble.
In Weeden’s only full season as a starter, he posted a cumulative overall grade of -27.4. However, that was his rookie year in Cleveland, so I’m willing to cut him some slack. Through five games for the Browns in 2013, he earned a -5.2; last season, he posted a -2.4 through five games for Dallas.
In his only game as a starter in 2014, however, he graded at -5.1 against Arizona.
Weeden is not your typical third-year starter. He played minor league baseball for five seasons before returning to Oklahoma State with enough eligibility remaining to make a name for himself. In his final season, Weeden passed for 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns while guiding the Cowboys to an 11-1 season and a No. 3 BCS ranking.
Weeden was then selected 22nd overall by the Browns in the 2012 NFL draft. Poor play and injuries got him ousted from Cleveland after only 24 games and.
One of the main reasons they gave up on him so fast was due to his age; Weeden will be 32 next month. That’s not ideal for a rebuilding franchise, but perfect for a playoff-contending team in need of a mature back-up. The Cowboys have a pair of solid offensive minds in head coach Jason Garrett and coordinator Scott Linehan; combined they might be able to get the best out of him.
While the absence of Bryant won’t help Weeden’s move into the starting role, the Cowboys should be able to stay atop the NFC East if continues to produce as he did on Sunday.